Beware of Pet Projects Interfering With Your Criticality Analysis

In 1999 I lived and worked in Bangkok, Thailand. At the time several large infrastructure projects were underway including an elevated train and a subway. For a city built on water and mud, the wisdom of a subway was questionable and the engineering feats to build it were herculean. Many questioned the merit of the project. However, it was well known that the subway was championed by a well-connected and important individual.

Similarly, it is not uncommon for some stakeholders participating in a criticality analysis to have strong personal biases or certain pet projects on their agenda. One department may try to influence the results to raise the criticality of their assets to justify a capital investment or other priorities that might not have legitimate justification according to the overall mission or objectives.

For example, in one project a plant engineer aggressively promoted repaving a parking lot that had moderate impact on overall operations. He overstated consequences to influence the criticality ranking of the paved area, in an attempt to move his pet project higher in the priorities.

Beware of pet projects! They skew criticality results, are disingenuous and generally result in the misallocation of resources. They can also lead to conflict among stakeholders and hamper the cross-functional collaboration that underpins a successful criticality analysis.

Pet projects drain resources from truly critical items, confusing want with need. I think of my own 12 year-old who is always telling me he NEEDS an iPhone, when in fact all he needs is a means of staying in touch with his friends. Unfortunately, this is a trait we don’t always outgrow, although we may hide it better.

Avoid these pitfalls through establishing a good team of representatives from all relevant departments and working with an experienced facilitator who can neutralize the champions of pet projects. Keep everyone on track through pointing back to the agreed organizational aims and objectives.